I had always wanted to visit New Zealand so when my husband said he needed to visit Australia and New Zealand I jumped at the chance to go. We flew to Auckland from Sydney in a few hours with Air New Zealand and the flights were not too expensive. We were there for just over a week with the hubby working Monday to Thursday.
I decided that I didn't want to spend all my time in Auckland and so I also booked an overnight trip to visit an old school friend. It seams crazy to be so close and not to visit and I'm certainly glad I did, not just because I got to see my friend, but also because Wellington is lovely.
Wellington is built on the hillside of a peninsula and so benefits from some lovely views and of course access to the water. The centre itself is quite small and easily walkable. On the day I was there the harbour-side has lots of fun activities organized, even fancy dress cricket.
There were two harbors, and the smaller one (pictured) had lots of little sailing boats and was such a lovely place to relax, have an ice cream and watch the world go by. On the harbor front there is Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand. Which has lots of history about the early origins of New Zealand. It was huge, so despite there being lots of kids there on school visits, there was lots of space for everyone. There were also plenty of little coffee shops on the harbor front to have a break in and just watch the world go by.
In comparison, Auckland was a bit of a disappointment, it didn't really have any charm....or maybe I was missing it... ??
There is a nice harbor and a long pier with bars and restaurants, that is also home to lots of fancy yachts and sailboats, but outside of this, I wasn't very excited. It was good to go there, and its ticked off the list, but I can't imagine I'll be racing to go back.
On Friday my husband took a day as a holiday so we could take a trip to Waiheke Island together. I suspect he didn't want me to me having all the fun alone! This is one of the best bits about Auckland in my opinion. (even though its not really Auckland) The island is a short ferry ride away and is not only a commuter island but it is home to some beautiful vineyards with spectacular views.
We grabbed a map and did a short walking tour and visited three vineyards. They are all ready for visitors with tasting rooms, shops and some even have restaurants
We spent the weekend driving along the Coromandel Coast. We picked up a hire car in Auckland and in no time at all were driving along the beautiful coastline. It was very quiet when we were there in March but the weather was still good enough to be able to eat fish and chips on the beach. We stayed in a lovely town house at Ocean's Resort in Whitianga.
A small town with a few great restaurants. The following day we drove on to what was the hi-light of the weekend for my husband .... we went to Hobbiton, home of The Hobbit.
As someone who doesn't like fantasy films I wasn't too excited about going here, but I can honestly say it was fascinating.
The attention to detail that went into creating the film set is quite staggering. A knowledge of the movie or even the book isn't needed. Of course it adds to the interest if you know which characters lived in which place, but for me it was still a nice day out....
Our last night we spent next to Lake Karapiro Lake. It was a last minute decision. We had to change our plans due to the Tornado that was predicted to hit the Coromandel Coast. I'm glad we found this place. It was beautiful and with only 2 hours notice the hosts produced a fabulous evening meal. The next morning we had a hearty breakfast and were on our way back to Auckland to return the car and catch a flight to Singapore.
I'd like to return to NZ someday, not necessarily Auckland, and maybe incorporate it with a trip to Bora Bora or one of the other French Polynesian islands.....It would also be nice to visit Marlborough the home of some of my favourite Sauvignon Blanc Wines....
On our last night in Auckland we decided to visit Ostro on the recommendation of one of my husband's colleagues. Not only was it a few minutes walk from our hotel, it also had a great balcony with space for lots of diners.
From the balcony can see the harbour with a view of the loading docks and the restaurant has an 'industrial chic' thing going on.
When we arrived it was very busy, for a mid week evening, with a young crowd. The kitchen is open plan its interesting to be able to see what is going on.
We were shown to our table and our waiter speedily arrived with menus and took a drinks order.
The bread arrived and was so tasty it was difficult to stop eating, but the thought of the oyster platter that was to come helped my terrible willpower.
The Menu offered a great selection of both meat and fish dishes. Oysters are obviously very popular here as we could see them on many of the other tables.They were fresh and tasty, as you would expect in NZ. the mains were a good size and full of flavour. I had a ravioli special that was delicious home made pasta and a delicate filling.....
Desserts were also good.... I had a chocolate dessert, but to be honest I had eaten too much to fully enjoy it. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his brand snaps though.
Our Waiter Mauro D was charming, attentive and very professional.... I'd definately recommend Ostro to anyone in Auckland.
Ostro , Sefarers Building 52 Tyler Street between Tyler Street and Quay Street
We walked by this restaurant when we were walking down the pier one morning and thought it looked nice and so after reading a few online reviews decided to give it a try.
As I now look at their website I see thy have won lots of awards, and quite rightly so, in my opinion.
There was a little wait for a table - I don't think they take reservations, so we waited at the bar and enjoyed a glass of wine. In about 30 mins we were sitting at our table and ready to order.
The restaurant was full, even mid week and off season. The atmosphere was buzzy and despite being full the noise level was still quite low.
Our waitress was very pleasant, explaining which things were home made, and how big the dishes would be etc. We decided on a platter of meats to share, which was quiet substantial, so I'm glad we didn't order more.
Service was excellent, relaxed but efficient. There were always people around to answer questions or bring more wine.
All the dishes we tried were cooked perfectly. The pasta was deliciously al dente and the sauces very tasty. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meal. They have daily specials alongside the daily menu, which in fairness offers enough choice for most people.
All the food was well presented and the portion size was good. Not so big that you feel wasteful when you can't eat everything, but enough that you are not hungry even if you don't order 3 courses.
Desserts, as you can see from the photos were a feast not only for the taste buds but also for the eyes.
Baduzzi is owned by the same people who own The Grove, and our experience there didn't even come close to experience we had at Baduzzi.
At The Grove the service was sloppy, superior and slow. It took ages to get a drink upon arrival and although we ordered the degustation menu with wine paring, the wines hardly ever arrived with the food..... maybe they need to switch some of the staff here to show them how good service can be achieved.....
Baduzzi 22 Jellicoe St, Auckland, New Zealand +64 9 3099339 Website
The downside of the great price was that I was that all my flights were separate and I was flying,
Zurich - London - Singapore- Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney - Auckland - Sydney - Singapore - London - Zurich....
whereas my husband flew....
Zurich - Singapore - Melbourne - Auckland - Singapore - Zurich.
As most of you know, I am not phased by unknown airports or travelling alone so I loaded up my iBooks, grabbed my bag and off I went.
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got to walk around the airports in-between flights, and after arriving in Sydney I had a nice shower in the lounge and changed clothes before the short hop to Melbourne. That made a huge difference to how I felt when I arrived.
I got my return to Sydney organised with a stopover in Singapore on the way home. It was a great price and the leg out was business class, so I knew I would arrive at least having had a good sleep on the BA flat bed. The ticket was only 300 Swiss Francs more than Prem Ecc so I jumped on that fare.
As things worked out I was also lucky enough to get a nice upgrade to business class on the return, proving that loyalty really does pay.
So again my husband had to travel for his job and if there is something most people know about me its that I'm not the type of person to sit at home alone for 3 weeks, so I jumped quickly on www.BA.com and got myself some flights. My husband flies direct and in Business Class and the cost of his tickets is way more than I am prepared to spend on myself so I've become pretty good at working out the best flight combinations for the price.
I've been to Sydney and Melbourne several times before so this trip was all about catching up with friends. I met up with an old college friend, a friend I used to work with, a friend from expat days in Singapore and also some new friends from Zurich who were there by coincidence. We tried out lots of great restaurants, and of course the Sydney Fish Market. I had such an amazing time.
The weather was perfect for being in the city and I got to take some lovely long walks and indulge in some retail therapy too.
New Zealand was a new adventure for me as I have never been before. We stayed in Auckland and at the weekend hired a car to drive along the coast and visit Hobbiton, where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were filmed. I also took advantage of my husband's busy work scheduled and took a quick flight to Wellington for an overnight visit to another college friend.
Singapore was a nice 3 night stopover on the return home. For me the hi-light was catching up with friends from when we used to live here, and of course the food. Staying in a great hotel in the CBD with a lovely pool didn't hurt either.
I'm in the process of writing a few blog posts about the cities, restaurants, hotels and various airline lounges I have come across, so if you are interested, watch this space this space.
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